Low-Tech Clay, High-End Results with Kari Radasch

In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Daily Presents video series, Kari Radasch demonstrates her low-tech approach to making colorful, functional pots. A busy mom of two small children, Kari has streamlined her processes to...(Scroll for more.)

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Runtime: 3 hours

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…make the most of her studio time and she shares all of her secrets here. She starts off with a number of techniques for making simple hump molds out of clay and moves on to plaster for larger forms. Once the molds are made, she demonstrates six different ways they can be used to make delightful dishes. Kari also shares her decorating techniques, including sgraffito, colored terra sigillata, underglaze wash, and glazing processes.

Simple Molds; Endless Possibilities

Always preferring to keep things as low tech as possible, Kari uses bisque molds to create the majority of her work. The beauty of bisque molds, as Kari explains, is that they fit in so well with her studio routine – using the same materials and processes she uses on a daily basis. So Kari starts off demonstrating how to make five different types of bisque molds, from solid-built hump molds to molds appropriated from dishes she finds in flea markets or big box stores.

Plaster Molds Simplified

For larger forms, Kari gets better results using plaster molds so she also shares her techniques for mixing and pouring a plaster mold in a store-bought dish. Kari stresses that using plaster for hump and slump molds doesn’t have to be a huge production and her no-muss, no fuss approach to plaster will dispel any reservations you might have had about using the material.

Making Pots

Once the molds are made, it’s on to making pots and Kari starts off by demonstrating the fun you can have with stacking forms. The possibilities are endless when you have a collection of molds that you can mix and match. Plus Kari points out that when working with appropriated molds, you can experiment with the originals and determine what you like before you even spend the time making the mold.

Humps, Slumps and Coils

Next Kari shows some ways to incorporate texture into hump/slump molds, make a bowl with a pinched handle, and how to make a long oval tray with handles. She also shows how to build on to an appropriated form with coils to attach your own customization to the found form. The bonus to this technique is that you can vary the form each time you make it to fend off boredom in the studio.

Bold, Vibrant Surfaces

The video would not be complete without covering Kari’s fantastic surface decoration. Her surfaces start off with terra sigillata and she demonstrates what she jokingly refers to as her “rain coat” (as opposed to lab coat) method of making and working with terra sig. Kari uses terra sig because she prefers its smooth characteristics for doing her sgraffito drawings. You’ll see why she loves the clean, crisp lines it produces. She also shows how she adds Mason Stains to the sig to create her bright beautiful colors. Kari tops it all off with her glazing process, which involves an underglaze wash and commercial and home-mixed glazes. She stresses that she is all about using commercial products because of their convenience.

Bonus Materials

In addition to the three hours of techniques above, there are two bonus videos and a downloadable PDF of Kari’s terra sig and glaze recipes, and her preferred commercial products. This video is loaded with great ideas and techniques, and the best part is that they are quick and accessible! But don’t let the low-tech methods fool you because the results are simply awesome.

About the Artist

Kari Radasch was born and raised in coastal Maine. She received her BFA from the Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland, Maine, and her MFA from the University of NebraskaLincoln. She was an Emerging Artist at the 2004 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference and was the first potter awarded the Evelyn Shapiro Fellowship at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia. Kari has taught workshops at art centers and universities around the country and currently teaches at MECA. She lives and pots in Portland with her husband Ian Anderson, daughter Ruby May, son Heilo Blue, and dog Max. To learn more about Kari, please visit www.kariradasch.com.

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